Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

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Family: Retroviridae, Genus: Lentivirus. ssRNA, enveloped icosahedral nucleocapsid, of approximately 100 to 110 nm in diameter. Strains: HIV-1 and HIV-2.

Growth Conditions

Cell culture

Health Hazards

Host Range


Modes of Transmission

In general, HIV is spread by close sexual contact or parenteral exposure through blood or blood products, including transfusion. Mother-child transmission can occur during pregnancy, delivery or breastfeeding.

Signs and Symptoms

Non-specific symptoms such as lymphadenopathy, anorexia, chronic diarrhea, weight loss, fever, and fatigue; opportunistic infections and malignant diseases without a known cause for immune deficiency.

Infectious Dose


Incubation Period


Medical Precautions/Treatment


Post exposure prophylaxis is available.




Antiretroviral agents are available


Clinical follow-up and confirmation of diagnosis by serology or viral titers

Emory Requirements


Laboratory Hazards

Laboratory Acquired Infections (LAIs)

Needle stick, contaminated sharp objects, direct contact of non-intact skin or mucous membranes with HIV-infected specimens/tissues.


Blood; concentrated virus in a laboratory; visibly bloody fluid; other body fluids (semen, CSF, vaginal); unscreened or inadequately treated blood products. 

Supplemental References

Canadian MSDS

Pathogen Safety Data Sheets 


Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) 

CDC Guidelines

Protecting Healthcare Personnel 



Work involving clinical specimens and non-culture procedures

BSL-2+BSL-3 Practices or BSL-3

In vitro culture of competent virus (replication), and manipulation of concentrated virus.


Work with NHPs or other animals inoculated with HIV, and their specimens.

Spill Procedures


Notify others working in the lab. Allow aerosols to settle. Don appropriate PPE. Cover area of the spill with paper towels and apply an EPA registered disinfectant, working from the perimeter towards the center. Allow 30 minutes of contact time before disposal and cleanup of spill materials.


Contact Emory's Biosafety Officer (404-727-8863),
the EHSO Office (404-727-5922), or
The Spill Response Team (404-727-2888).

Exposure Procedures

Mucous membrane

Flush eyes, mouth or nose for 15 minutes at eyewash station.

Other Exposures

Wash area with soap and water for 15 minutes.


All work incidents (major or minor) must be reported to Occupational Injury Management. Complete an incident report using Self Service through Emory Peoplesoft

Medical Followup 

7am-4pm (OIM): EUH (404-686-7941) EUHM (404-686-7106) WW (404-728-6431)

After Hours: OIM NP On Call 404-686-5500 PIC# 50464

Needle Stick (OIM): EUH (404-686-8587) EUHM (404-686-2352)

Yerkes: Maureen Thompson Office (404-727-8012) Cell (404-275-0963)



Fresh 2% glutaraldehyde, 1% sodium hypochlorite


HIV is inactivated by ultraviolet (UV) light, in close proximity; cell-free medium; pH higher or lower than 7.1; temperature higher than 60C for at least 30 min

Survival Outside Host

Contaminated blood at room temperature for 42 days, and in blood and cerebrospinal fluid from autopsies for up to 11 days.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Minimum PPE Requirements

At minimum, personnel are required to don gloves, closed toed shoes, lab coat, and appropriate face and eye protection prior to working with HIV. Additional PPE may be required depending on lab specific SOPs.

Additional Precautions

Extreme care must be taken to avoid spilling and/or splashing infected materials. HIV should be presumed to be in/on all equipment and devices coming in direct contact with infected materials.